AllModern, a Wayfair Brand, Opens Second Physical Retail Store in Dedham


Photo by Darlene Wong Cancell. Wayfair's head of Specialty Retail, Todd Brisky, and AllModern's General Manager Reena Person stand in AllModern's physical Design Studio, previously accessible only as an online experience.

AllModern, the Wayfair Inc. (Wayfair) specialty retail brand that offers home décor and furniture, may be known to many as an online brand, but now it has opened its second physical storefront in mid-November at Dedham’s Legacy Place, with a goal of seamlessly connecting the convenience of a digital experience with what it hopes to be a similarly convenient, but more tactile and immersive store experience. 

Connecting the digital with the physical begins the moment a customer walks in the front doors, where one’s eye is immediately drawn to a large, digital screen set in the middle and back of the store. It rises approximately from shoulder height and extends to the ceiling. Presumably, the image displayed could be as changed as easily as an image on the screen of a working computer. For now, it shows an innocuous image hinting at gifts and furniture. The large, glowing image draws the eye, and customer, further into the store.

Photo by Darlene Wong Cancell. A large, digital screen (center, back) pulls customers into AllModern's physical shopping experience.

Placed some feet in front of the large, digital screen, and at the approximate heart of the store is the AllModern Design Studio, looking like a familiar kitchen island with two large screen Apple iMacs on it. The set-up is placed in proximity to drawers that customers and AllModern's designers can pull out to touch and reveal swatches of cloth in different colors and material. This is the physical manifestation the free design services offered by AllModern online. The design experience both online and in-store uses the same tools -- an online mood board and floor plan.

Head of Specialty Retail for Wayfair, Todd Brisky, notes that customers can begin a design online, and then if interested in seeing a product, AllModern will move the customer seamlessly into its store to discuss options with a sales associate.

Photo by Darlene Wong Cancell. Todd Brisky of Wayfair (left) and AllModern's General Manager Reena Person pull out a drawer to examine swatches in the AllModern Design Studio.

The home furnishing industry is the last industry to experience a transformation of shopping convenience, says AllModern General Manager Reena Person.  AllModern's Dedham location follows the opening of AllModern's first physical location in Lynnfield in May of this year. “Our intention is also that the customer sees, here in store, the same thing that they they’d see online and same thing they’d see in the catalog, to have a really seamless, omni-channel experience,” she states.

Prices are displayed in what could be described as a pricing box, which sits atop the flat surfaces of furniture available for purchase. The AllModern pricing display mimics the paper pricing display that one would see in any number of other stores, set in a frame atop a flat surface. But AllModern’s pricing box is dynamic.

Photo by Darlene Wong Cancell. Todd Brisky, head of Specialty Retail for Wayfair, demonstrates how a pricing box in the store provides a portal to additional online product information.

In another link between physical and digital experiences, prices can change dynamically in AllModern’s Dedham store, just as they do on its website. The information in the store’s pricing box also includes a QR code that links to more in-depth information offered online. Customers can scan the QR code with a smartphone to connect to AllModern’s online product description and details, available color options, and availability of stock.

Mr. Brisky, explains, “We expect customers will discover the brand in store, go home and shop online; shop online, come to see the store to touch and feel. And our whole objective - as we’ve thought about the process - is to be completely agnostic. Where you start and where you finish is totally up to you,” he says.

“We’re fine if you walk into the store,” he continues. “You can walk in with our app, you can click on three QR codes and check-out while you’re walking to your car, and never talk to an associate. Or you can spend two hours in the Design Studio, working with an associate, building a project, putting a mood board together, putting a floor plan together. So, if you’re a do-it-yourself shopper - and I know there’s a lot of do-it-yourself-shoppers, we don’t want to force an assisted sales experience on you. Similarly, if you want that level of service, we’re here to meet you with that,” says Mr. Brisky.

Although AllModern is in the process of discovering more about its customers in the Dedham area, Ms. Person observes, “We think our customer here is going to be the working professional, young, urban family, kids, dogs, looking for [ ] real life, which is really what we set up the store as. Our furniture is meant to with[stand] all of those things.”

Photo by Darlene Wong Cancell. AllModern's store is organized in zones, as a home would be - dining room, living room, bed and bath. Architectural Digest Market Editor Madeline O'Malley styled the vignettes such as the dining scene pictured here, with living space in the background.

From what Ms. Person has gathered thus far, she believes the Dedham location will draw customers who are looking for pieces to invest in. “They’re past the IKEA stage. They’re moving on to things they want to put in their house for a period of time.” They care about the appearance of their home, but they want durability for real life. “Nothing that’s too pristine or untouchable or unapproachable. That’s really who we think our customer is,” she says.

Mr. Brisky adds his expectation for a diversity of customers, as well. With Dedham located just outside of Boston, Mr. Brisky expects to see urban customers represented from the city and Jamaica Plain, and possibly even Providence, Rhode Island. “[W]e want to serve close customers, but the catchment radius of the store hits a lot of different communities, which is exciting for us to learn what those consumers react to,” he says.

Thanks to Reena Person and Todd Brisky for speaking with Westwood Minute.

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